Onslow Co. Animal Shelter: Military Deployments Create Pet Issues

By: April Davis/ Carly Swain
By: April Davis/ Carly Swain

There are ups and downs to living in a military town. One down side is families and military members being uprooted to follow orders. But often, those orders do not have room for pets, and those animals have to be left behind.

"We're having a number of owner surrenders by military members that are deploying," said Onslow County Animal Shelter Director Alan Davis.

"In 2010, we had 1400 owner surrenders and in 2011 we had 1600-- so we had an increase of 200 dogs and cats."

Volunteer Alex Douglas says he sees it often. Douglas was on hand when a 10 month old golden lab was forced to say goodbye. Davis says he understands military orders, but after so many are left- he says the lack of planning just gets frustrating.

Beyond the last minute drop offs before deployment, Davis says sometimes it's just a lack of pet owner education leading to animals being left for adoption. If you think you just can't keep the animal, there are some tricks to try before giving them up.

Behavioral issues are one reason why several people decide it's time to give up a pet. However, veterinarians and animal experts agree: Spaying and neutering is not just about the sexuality of the animal. It can also really calm down their hormones and make them a cuddle buddy.

"Many times a military wife will be surrendering the dog because... it is the husband's dog, and he didn't really socialize with the entire family," said Davis.

Whether deploying or based at home: Experts say think ahead. Davis says we can keep shelters from being over-run with abandoned animals. Representatives from Camp Lejeune tell us that before any marine deploys, they are supposed to have a family readiness plan in place--that includes plans for their pets. If you are looking to adopt a pet- this month the Onslow County Animal Shelter is running their Adopt a Sweetheart event through February 18th. The adoption fee is waived .

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